In a word: metrics.
Many marketers struggle to have their departments viewed as the valuable, revenue-generating entities that they are. They are viewed as sales support teams, at best.
That shouldn’t be the case, and if it is, it may be your own fault. If you can’t create a line that ties your activities to actual revenue, you can’t prove that your marketing activity is generating revenue.
You only make the problem worse if you insist on talking to C-level folks about fans, followers, likes, and subscribers. They just don’t pay the rent. And acquiring them has costs.
But drawing the line between marketing and revenue isn’t always easy, particularly for B2B marketers without transactional websites. Which means that my claim for metrics being the answer is a bit simplistic. You really need:
- The right metrics
- Integration between sales and marketing systems
- A measurement process
The Right Metrics
As I mentioned above, not just any metrics will do. Process metrics like fans, followers, clicks, etc. are important to us as marketers but not important to those with profit-and-loss responsibility and not important to most businesses as a whole. (If you’re in the publishing business, that’s another story.)
The metrics you need to seek out are business metrics. These are metrics related to profit, revenue, sales, lead volume, lead quality, and so on. The problem, of course, is that not only are these metrics harder to measure, they are harder to tie to specific marketing actions.
Despite the increased degree of difficulty, this is the first step in turning marketing from a cost to a revenue generator. In fact, you may have to make inroads here before you can secure the resources you’ll need to take the next step.
Sales and Marketing Systems Integration
That next step is tying your various sales and marketing systems together in such a way that you can track not just how many times a piece of content, for example, has been consumed, but what content a particular prospect has consumed. This requires coordination between your CRM system and the CMS that underpins your website.
It’s of even more value if you can track which pieces of content are most frequently consumed by prospects who convert to customers.
As an added benefit, coordination like this can also increase your marketing’s effectiveness by allowing you to tailor the content you present to individual visitors. For example, once you know what content a site visitor has already consumed, you can replace a static “You Might Also Like” links in your sidebar with links to content that might be the next logical step for someone who has already consumed introductory materials.
Progressive profiling, as it’s called, will also help you hone your content offerings and create content ladders that lead from introductory materials through education and establishing trust to, we hope, conversion.
Finally, we need to measure what’s working and what is not. We need to know what content resonates with our audience and which audience segments we’re connecting with. Much of the data you’ll need for this will be available in your CRM, though you may need to tie in other analytics data gathering tools
The only downside to this is that implementation of these ideas tends to be quite customized. There’s no off-the-shelf solution that is likely to fit your needs – your audience, your CRM and CMS, your goals. Making yourself an educated consumer is critical, even if you aren’t going to implement with internal resources. Different vendors will present different solutions and doing an apples-to-apples comparison requires at least a basic understanding of the various moving parts.